Ideas

IDEAS schedule for February 2020

Highlights include: how a 1920s fashion trend became a moral panic in Canada (Feb. 4); revealing why three powerful words — "I love you" — can be both enriching and manipulative (Feb. 14); how the saxophone has been associated with spirituality and comedy (Feb. 19); and Nahlah Ayed visits the Hungarian border as part of our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us.

February 3
ENRIGHT FILES: BREXIT
One of the most tumultuous periods of modern British political history is finally over, and Boris Johnson can finally relieve himself of his European Union citizenship. Brexit became a reality on January 31s, after three-and-a-half years of political chaos and gridlock following the 2016 referendum, leaving rancour and bitter polarization infecting British society. This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the drama and reasons behind Brexit — and about what drives nations to wall themselves off from the world. 


February 4
FLAPPER AND THE MODERN GAL
In the 1920s, a new style icon arrived: flappers. With their bobbed hair, short dresses, and penchants for smoking, drinking, and dancing, these post-WWI women were initially seen as simply flighty, self-obsessed, and hedonistic. But in this documentary from CBC Vancouver's Matthew Lazin-Ryder, we'll hear how the spectre of the flapper became a moral panic in Canadian society, and dredged up fears of unhinged sex and drugs as well as phobic attitudes toward immigration.


February 5
A CONTENT OF STORIES
Deborah Ahenkora has long believed there's a 'book famine' in Africa. The most acute shortage, says the lifelong bibliophile, is in books written by Africans for Africans — especially children's books in which African children could see themselves reflected. Ahenkora decided to act to rewrite that story, by encouraging the publication of African writers through an annual competition — and later, her own publishing house. She's the winner of the Global Centre for Pluralism 2019 Global Pluralism award. In her lecture at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and an interview with Nahlah Ayed, Ahenkora reflects on the magic and power of giving children a place in the books they read.


February 6
GEORGE STEINER'S 1974 MASSEY LECTURE  
The internationally renowned thinker and scholar, George Steiner, died this week, at the age of  90. In 1974, the cultural and literary critic delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, entitled Nostalgia for the Absolute, in which examined the alternative "mythologies" of Marxism, Freudian psychology, Lévi-Straussian anthropology, and — most tellingly for our own time — fads of irrationality. 


February 7
MARK BLYTH: GLOBAL TRUMPISM AND THE FUTURE OF THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY
Pundits, analysts and others in the chattering classes were surprised and shocked at the election of Donald Trump and other populist leaders in Europe. But Scottish political scientist Mark Blyth saw it coming. In this talk delivered at McMaster University as part of its Socrates Project, he asks listeners to consider the political and economic circumstances that led to these phenomena. Where is it all going? And why should we pay attention? Mark Blyth shares his thoughts in both his lecture and in a later conversation with our host, Nahlah Ayed. *Originally broadcast on October 15, 2019.
 



February 10
GIVING UP EMPIRE
At the height of the British Empire, some British thinkers argued that Britain should let go of its control over much of the world. This notion was radical at the time, but in retrospect, many Canadians would now side with the view of anti-Empire radicals and the colonized people who argued for their own right to independence. CBC Radio Producer Tom Howell finds out what this thinking may mean for Canada today, in light of what some Indigenous leaders call our own "colonial" behaviour toward the other nations within Canadian borders. Should Canadians emulate those nineteen century British anti-colonialists? And if so, what would Canada look like? *Originally broadcast on October 10, 2019.
 

February 11
ADAM GOPNIK'S 2019 LAFONTAINE-BALDWIN LECTURE
Liberalism is not terribly popular right now. People on the political right see the belief system as elitist and out of touch. Those on the left dismiss it as ineffective. But the liberal tradition still has strong supporters. Adam Gopnik — the author, and essayist for the New Yorker — is one. In this lecture and conversation with host Nahlah Ayed, he argues in strong defence of liberalism as a bulwark against the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world. He says liberal values are "possible and necessary," and as seen in Hong Kong's protests, embattled but hardy.
 

February 12
AN IMPROBABLE REVOLUTION: HONG KONG VS. CHINA
The protest movement in Hong Kong, sparked by anti-extradition marches in June, has evolved into three distinct revolutionary moments, according to sociologist Ching Kwan Lee. It has led to the reimagining of community, the re-evaluation of violence, and Hong Kong's emergence as a global city, able to leverage its financial role to stand against China's absolutist authority. In a recent lecture at Ryerson University and in conversation from her home in Hong Kong, Lee discusses the Hong Kong revolution which she is both studying and participating in.  
 

February 13
HERE COMES TROUBLE: HOW TO WORRY SENSIBLY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Three expert analysts, each from a different discipline, offer up their greatest fear for the near-ish future and make the case for how we must prepare. Michael O'Hanlon and Andrea Charron both focus on the threat of conflict between great powers, but they promote very different styles of national defence. David E. McClean tries to re-direct our attention to the "war" for net-zero carbon emissions, and proposes a new global authority that can overrule individual nations. We make the experts compare their fears and debate their solutions together.

February  14
"I LOVE YOU"
Those three magic words are the most powerful and misunderstood words in the English language, according to writer and contributor Marianne Apostilides. She draws from Shakespere, Freud, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and other greats to parse how "I love you" can be enriching, manipulative and even empty.
 



February  17
TRUE HISTORY IN THE AGE OF FAKE NEWS
All of us are sorting through facts, lies, and exaggerations on social media, not to mention politically-charged cries of 'fake news.' So you can only imagine how fraught it is to be a historian today. They're thinking their way through deepfakes, political bias, archive abuse, and even the co-opting of historical periods by various extremist groups. Top Western historians — Julia Lovell, Maya Jasanoff, Mary Fulbrook, Jill Lepore, and moderator Faith Wallis — talk about the challenges and the stakes of getting history right, in this Cundill History Prize Forum recorded at McGill University.
 

February 18
INTO THE WILD:  WADE DAVIS 
The Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis has spent a lifetime studying the Indigenous peoples of the world, and their relationship with the planet we all share. For him, the big question is whether can we learn from these "wayfinders" as he called them in his 2009 CBC Massey lectures. Ten years after those lectures, he looks back on what has changed on our planet — for better and for worse. Wade Davis in conversation with David Goldbloom at the Stratford Festival.


February 19
CAPTURING OUR FRACTURED, FRACTIOUS AGE 
Gun violence, financial uncertainty, climate change, political hostility, food insecurity... The list of features defining our anxious and angry age could go much further. But how to portray it, how to represent it, how to dramatize it? Lucy Ellmann's epic and Booker-nominated novel, Ducks, Newburyport may well have done that. The narrator is a simple, likeable, pie-baking housewife in Ohio. The form is complex and sophisticated: stream-of-consciousness, 1,000 pages long — and comprised of one, single sentence!  *Originally broadcast on October 11, 2019.


February 20
THE DEATH OF LEISURE
The promise of ever-greater efficiency and technology was that we would all have more and more time to pursue non-work related activities. As automation and, later, digital technologies helped make our jobs easier and faster, we could use all the time we saved and spend it on pursuing the good life. But that's not how it's worked out. Technology did create efficiencies, but the time that opened up seems to have become crammed with even more work. And with that constant busyness, we've become more anxious about the ways in which we want to spend our time, but simply can't. The pursuit of the good life has turned into a waiting game. As soon as the inbox is cleared and the dishes are put away and the report is submitted and laundry is done, only then can we think about what ends to pursue merely for their own sake. But maybe there's a way to think about the good life in this moment. How do we reshape and reconfigure our relationship to the time we have and open it up so we can pursue the things we value?


February 21
ORIGINS OF CONSCIENCE: PATRICIA CHURCHLAND
How do we determine right from wrong? According to Patricia Churchland, the answer is through science and philosophy. The distinguished proponent of neurophilosophy explores how moral systems arise from the influences of nature and nurture. Her book, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition, delves into scientific studies — particularly on twins — to understand whether people have a predisposition to embrace specific ethical stands. Churchland also turns to philosophy to explore why the presence of moral codes is both universal to all societies, yet particular and distinct to each society throughout place and time.
 



February 24
WALKING THE BORDER: WALLS THAT DIVIDE US, PT 1
More than 20 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed, the so-called peace walls remain in Northern Ireland. Host Nahlah Ayed heads to Belfast to find out if the walls are helping or hindering community reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant, Republican and Unionist. This is the first episode in our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us. *Originally broadcast on September 2, 2019.


February 25
WALKING THE BORDER: WALLS THAT DIVIDE US, PT 2
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have been divided by a largely invisible border since 1998. But Brexit has sparked anxiety that the border could once again become very visible — and a cause of conflict and violence. Ideas host Nahlah Ayed went there to hear what people are saying. *Originally broadcast on September 9, 2019.
 

February 26
WALKING THE BORDER: WALLS THAT DIVIDE US, PT 3
In a time of growing authoritarianism and a decline in democratic institutions, it is a greater challenge to accept that despite the language of "us and them," we have obligations to strangers both inside and outside our borders. Michael Ignatieff talks to Nahlah Ayed about citizenship, moral values, and what we still owe each other. *Originally broadcast on September 13, 2019.


February 27 & February 28
WALKING THE BORDER: WALLS THAT DIVIDE US — HUNGARY (PARTS 4 & 5)
Beginning in 2015 a great wave of migrants, mostly from North Africa and the Middle East, began to wash into Europe. We saw them coming on the nightly news, asylum seekers and economic migrants, in rickety boats, walking in long lines, and in hastily constructed camps. That wave became a flood, and most European nations didn't know what to do. In Hungary, however, they built a fence to keep everyone out. To see what happened, Nahlah Ayed visits the Hungarian border, and crosses over into Serbia. Parts 4 and 5 in our "Walls" series.